Niels Albert was once the best motocross rider in the world. However, in 2009, the then world champion was defeated by Sven Nys during the Jaarmarktcross in Niel. And Albert now told a remarkable story about that.
The Jaarmarktcross has been a traditional appointment for the cyclo-cross top for years. Next Saturday it will be that time again, when the third round of the Superprestige will be held.
Fourteen years ago Sven Nys came out on top, this year it could well be his son Thibau. In 2009 Nys won ahead of Albert, Zdenek Stybar, Radomir Simunek and Bart Aernouts. It now appears that Nys received that victory somewhat as a gift from his great rival at the time.
“I had the entire audience on my neck then,” Albert sighs in the Lambert & Albert podcast. “The story is like this. Two of us drove up and I just couldn’t get there. Sven sat on my left, on the inside. I had to half put my foot and half not, and therefore I hindered him and Sven drove into a post. I was gone and Sven was standing there half struggling. Then there was real booing all the way through, not normal. I was scolded there. The next round again and I signal: Just shout, shout. I didn’t feel like driving anymore…”
Then Nys came to ride next to Albert, according to the then world champion. “He came next to me and said: Shall we sprint for it? But I would like to win. So Sven won the race, but what I thought was a shame – and that has all been forgotten now – Sven afterwards thanked the supporters for the support he had received, while they had cursed me for an hour. Then I was like: Eeeeeey Sven come on. But now I think back on that fondly, I love stories like that.”
Paul Herygers then wonders whether it happened often that a cross was ‘sold’. “That just happened every now and then,” says Albert. “Don’t tell me that never happened, are you? What was that about? A favor in return, for example. This year, I’m not talking about that. That has happened maybe three times in my career and I have ridden a hundred major races.”